Apple Spent $100 Million On The ITC Lawsuit Against HTC And Got Almost Nothing In Return


It appears that although Apple has a big market share, it’s not enough therefore so a battle against most Android manufacturers including HTC was started. It is what some people have called a “thermonuclear war” against the Android smartphone makers and the final result appears on the horizon, but it doesn’t look that good from Apple’s view.

That is because apparently from all the claims they had, the majority were declined and only two were approved. And to make things worse, these two claims are so little that it allows their opponents to make some small adjustments on their devices in order to avoid a ban on smartphone imports in the US.

And if you were wondering yourself how much money does a lawsuit between two giant corporations costs, it appears that Apple managed to spend around $100 million just on its first set of claims against HTC. Although nothing is official and this news is a rumor for the time being, I consider the real sum to be around this amount. If you look from the financial perspective, then it means that Apple lost a lot of money without getting anything in return.

The entire case against HTC was started by Apple back at the International Trade Commission in February 2010 with a simple and at the same time big request from Apple to ITC: to block all sales of HTC products in United States. At the beginning, there were 84 claims based on 10 patents. From the beginning things took a wrong turn for Apple because by the time these patents reached the first judge, only four were admitted as reliable.

To take all these four patents one by one the first of them was totally invalid with the main reason being the prior art and according to judges should have never even be issued by Apple. On other two patents there was another simple ruling and it stated that HTC did not at any point infringed on the patents and to make things even more confusing for Apple, the judges stated that Apple is not using those patents in their products which made them not reliable to make any complaints.

The last patent was the one that gave Apple a little hope and judges admitted that HTC was infringing. That was in fact the big victory for Apple’s side, however, if you look at it from a neutral perspective you realize it is a small victory in a war they lost. In fact, the patent involves a small software that allows users to press a phone number in an email or web page. This action brings out a small menu that allows users to  call, send a message or send an email to that address. The solution for HTC is very simple: either to remove it from their smartphones sold in the US or to change the way it’s doing it.

Now the next question comes into our minds: is this little patent worth the $100 million spent by Apple in the process? We can’t surely know before some official statements are presented. What I can tell you is that Apple will not stop at this point, and it will keep searching for more infringed patents simply because the company has the money to battle against everyone. Although it loses money, it gains customers while its competitors are losing credibility. If a judge provides such a small victory in court, then Apple will win in the eyes of the public.

There is a second complaint against HTC that will be settled in March 2012.

On the other hand HTC also has two pending patent claims against Apple at the ITC, and the first one is set to have a deadline next month with the second one following in April 2012. And let’s not forget about other claims all over the world against other big smartphone companies like Samsung and Motorola. All of these are also suing Apple, and Apple is suing them, too.

Until now, Nokia has been among the few winners in a patent lawsuit against Apple. After more than three years, Apple finally agreed to license some technology from Nokia and paying several hundred millions to the Finnish-based company.

At the end I am sure everyone is going to calm down and it appears that Steve’s dream to make Android disappear will not happen very soon.

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